What Nurses Need to Know about COVID-19
Preparedness, Early Identification, and Notification
All Nurses and the health care team must receive the highest level of protection to provide care for the individuals and communities in which they serve. It is essential to develop and educate ALL staff on preparedness plans that provide infection control procedures and protocols used within the health care facility for the early identification, containment, and care of patients with symptoms associated with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) to prevent spread within the facility. Here are some tips:
- Develop inpatient, ambulatory, and home care policies and procedures that are in line with current CDC guidelines for COVID-19.
- Provide training to all personnel on screening and isolation procedures.
- Provide updated training and guidelines on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including the use of N-95 respirators, gloves, gowns, masks, eye protection, and face shields.
- Display clear signage with instructions for access and use of PPE.
- Ensure consistent use of proper hand hygiene, standard precautions, contact precautions, and airborne precautions, along with the proper use of a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-Approved N-95 respirator or higher.
- Clearly display signage for patients that lists symptoms and instructions to wear a face mask before entering the healthcare facility if symptoms are present.
- Incorporate assessment questions to document a detailed travel and community exposure history when patients present with fever, cough, or respiratory illness.
- Identify, in advance, airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR) or negative pressure rooms, for quarantine and screening.
- Outline staffing protocols to facilitate care of patients with COVID-19 to minimize patient-to-patient and patient to health care worker transmission.
- Develop a telephone triage protocol for patients to access from home to minimize community based transmission.
- Have available for immediate notification of Patient’s Under Investigation (PUI) the infection control personnel at your facility and the local and state health department. Click here for additional Recommendations for Reporting, Testing, and Specimen Collection and the fillable COVID-19 PUI case investigation form.
- For Patients Under Investigation (PUI), follow the Criteria to Guide Evaluation of PUI for COVID-19.
Isolation, Quarantine, Monitoring, and Hospitalization
The CDC recommends several steps for identification and maintenance of COVID-19 along with detailed guidelines for isolation precautions to prevent transmission. There should be a clearly displayed flowchart for early identification and assessment of COVID-19.
At this time, the modes of transmission include respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes and transmission by touching the eyes, nose, or mouth after contact with an infected surface.
Isolation Precautions to Prevent Transmission Guidelines
- Have masks available for PUI to don before entering the healthcare facility.
- Once identified, isolate the patient to airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR) or negative pressure room and keep the door closed. Conduct the assessment in this room.
- Healthcare personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, airborne precautions, and eye protection (goggles or a face shield).
- Don Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before entering the room.
- Have guidelines for the proper use of PPE displayed throughout the healthcare facility.
- Have infection control personnel available to provide just-in-time training on proper PPE use.
- Notify your infection control personnel and the local and state health department of suspected cases.
How to Educate Your Patients and Minimize Spread within the Community
Per the CDC, it is known that coronavirus is part of a large family of viruses that can cause illness in people and animals. It is known that COVID-19 is spread via respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. It is also possible to spread COVID-19 by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching an infected surface. The CDC provides the following guidance to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading among people in homes and communities.
- STAY HOME except to get medical care, do not use public transportation or taxis if sick.
- Call first before visiting your healthcare provider. Notify them of your symptoms and the need for evaluation for COVID-19. Follow the instructions provided by your healthcare team.
- Separate yourself from other people in your home, utilize a separate bathroom.
- Wear a facemask as instructed if you are sick.
- Use your elbow to cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid sharing household items.
- Monitor your symptoms.
- For a full list of guidelines and recommended actions for preventing the spread of Coronavirus visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/guidance-prevent-spread.html
COVID-19 - Nurses Online and Printable Materials
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Situation Dashboard
What To Say To Patients About Coronavirus Video